12 Tips to Keep Your Home Warm this Winter
Weather is unpredictable in Kansas and this season has been particularly indecisive. After some brief moisture, we seemed to return to some higher temperatures, which has caused many to put off home winterizing tasks. With an icy January, many are regretting that now. But it’s not too late to perform some winter home maintenance. You can still protect your belongings from damage from the cold and ice this season while lowering your utility bills by increasing your home's efficiency.
Here's our quick list of winter home maintenance tasks:
1. Check for cracks in your walls that may allow drafts inside. These are particularly easy to find now that the chill has settled in. You can seal any gaps with expanding foam filler or silicone. Be sure to use silicone around windows or doors - it is much easier to make look neat and can be paintable. While this helps keep your home warmer, it also keeps critters from coming in your home to escape the cold. While you are at it, be sure to check for leaks or puckering edges around vents. These can be filled as well to prevent moisture from coming in.
2. Upgrade to a thermostat that can be programmed. They aren’t a big investment, but can mean big savings for your utility bill. By keeping the house a little cooler while you are away and to warm up just before you get home, you aren’t wasting money keeping the house toasty for no one. Just don’t turn it down too much while you’re out. Increasing the temperature too much when you get home causes more strain on your furnace.
3. Upgrade your windows.
This one is obviously a larger investment, but also has one of the biggest impacts. If your windows don’t have double or triple pane glass or storm doors, your home is leaking energy in a big way. When you look to upgrade windows, look for low-E glass (low emissivity). Low-E glass has many benefits that helps lower your energy bill and protect your home from the sun. We also recommend Infinity from Marvin ultrex fiberglass windows
. The fiberglass doesn’t shrink or swell with temperature changes, meaning you are far less likely to develop gaps around the frame, allowing more cold air inside. If upgrading windows isn’t in the budget, using polyurethane film over the panes, is a temporary alternative.
4. Look for light around doors and windows.
Weatherstripping or caulking can make quick work of any gaps around your doors and windows, but keep in mind that these solutions will likely need to be repeated next year. With the high level of use and weather these areas of your home deal with, it’s important to have high quality, durable materials.
5. A quick fix to protect your home when winter weather comes knocking is a doormat and shoe scraper! Using a doormat that has tough bristles to remove mud, ice, and rock salt can help decrease the amount of destructive grit and grime on your floors. Keeping melting ice from shoes contained and off your floors protects them from damage - which is especially important with wood floors. Keeping your walkways clean also prevents so much snow and mud from being tracked inside.
6. Insulation is an important piece of our home that can be forgotten, since we don’t often see it unless we go looking. Check your attic, basement, and crawlspace to see if they are insulated. If not, adding some insulation can make a drastic difference in the efficiency of your home. There are a few options for insulation, the most common being fiberglass, which is easy to find in home stores and easy to add to spaces that may be lacking. Blow in insulation is even more insulating, while more costly. An added bonus is that added insulation also can help soundproof your home so you hear less noise from the neighborhood.
7. If you use a fireplace or wood burning stove to help heat your home, having a professional clean and examine your fireplace and chimney is a non-negotiable. This can help ensure there are no obstructions in your chimney, which can cause house fires. Creosote logs are another way to help clean your chimney. The chemical released as they burn isn’t dangerous to you, but works to remove ash and build up on the inside of your chimney. Always remember to close the flue to keep the warm air from the fire inside!
8. Your furnace puts in a lot of work in the winter months. Be sure it doesn’t have to work harder than necessary by replacing your furnace filter regularly. Most filters are recommended to be changed every three months. The filter removes dirt and dust from the air and traps it. When it gets too clogged, the furnace can become less efficient.
9. One of the easiest ways to make the most of the heat your furnace is putting out? Turn your fans to run clockwise! This pushes the hot air down from the ceiling and keeps it circulating in the room. Most ceiling fans have a switch to reverse the direction. Just don’t forget to switch it back in the spring!
10. Winter is a riskier time for house fires as we utilize more electricity and try to keep the house warm. Be sure you are safe by checking batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for full functionality. If it’s been awhile since you thought about your smoke detectors, or if you recently moved, remember that it’s a good idea to have one in every room of your home and to check them monthly. An added precaution is to check dryer vents for lent build up to prevent fires before they may happen.
11. Follow up on fall maintenance!
If you were a little lax in your fall home maintenance, or did these tasks early in the fall, you may need to do a little double checking. Be sure that your roof is in good condition and not missing shingles or collecting debris in any spots, which could be an indication of damage or weak spots. Clean out gutters
to prevent build up that can cause blockage and dangerous icicle formation. Be sure that tree limbs that hang over or near the house are trimmed back to avoid ice causing them to fall on your home. And lastly, stow away the summer fun. If you haven’t already, move the grill and patio furniture into storage. You can also take steps to protect your air conditioner by placing plywood over the top to prevent icicles from dropping and damaging it. Don’t forget to unplug the sprinkler system!
12. Your heating system needs winter maintenance too. If you have PVC vent pipes, be sure they are cleaned to remove any blockage. If you have a boiler system, it needs it’s annual cleaning. If you are using a gas system, it should be cleaned about every three years. While we’re on the topic of heaters, get your water heater in tip top shape by flushing it to remove any sediment that may have built up. Add an insulating blanket to your water heater to help make it more efficient.
We hope these tips will help you stay warm this winter!